Australia can't catch up after slow start

ISTANBUL -- With 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Australia still had a goose egg on the scoreboard. That's right, a zero.

There are bad starts, and then there are really bad starts, and the latter doomed the Boomers to a long flight back Down Under as they were eliminated by Slovenia 87-58 Sunday in the round of 16 at the FIBA World Championship.

Led by Jaka Lakovic's 5-for-11 shooting from downtown, Slovenia went 16-for-33 on 3-pointers from the ridiculously easy FIBA distance of 20 feet, 6.1 inches (although it wasn't so ridiculously easy for Australia, which shot 2-for-19 from behind the arc.)

This is the last we'll see of both the short 3-point line and the trapezoid lane, as changes announced by FIBA two years ago will go into effect after the conclusion of this tournament. The lane will become rectangular, as it is in the NBA, and the 3-point line will be moved back by half a meter.

"I think the game's going to become better, more faster," said Bostjan Nachbar, who scored seven points as every player on Slovenia's roster made it into the scoring column in the box score. "It's going to open up the defenses, you're going to see more drives, better plays. Personally, I love it. I think it's long overdue."

Australia was down 12-0 before scoring its first points, and they had only six field goals and nine turnovers as halftime as Slovenia led 42-21 -- making eight of its 12 buckets from 3-point range. The game was never close the rest of the way, with the highlight coming when Goran Dragic took an inbound pass from under his own basket and dribbled upcourt at full speed while being defended by Aussie speedster and fellow NBAer Patty Mills. The race ended in a tie, but Dragic got the best of it by ending his burst with a feed to Primoz Brezec for a layup.

Lakovic had 19 points and Brezec 12 for Slovenia, which attempted 33 shots from 3-point range and just 27 from 2-point range.

"In international games when you're turning it up to a World Championship level, you've got to be ready to go from the jump -- and we started off on the back foot and were never in it," Mills said. "We can look forward to London, at least, but it's difficult to go out on a performance like that."